England to target struggling Aussie batsmen

Updated: 20 December 2010 06:42 IST

England warned all was not "rosy" for Australia despite their crushing Ashes win.

England to target struggling Aussie batsmen

Perth:

England on Monday warned all was not "rosy" for Australia despite their crushing Ashes win, with the tourists pledging to take aim at struggling home batsmen in the crucial Melbourne Test.

Coach Andy Flower said England would try to exploit Australia's batting weaknesses after captain Ricky Ponting and vice-skipper Michael Clarke both failed again in Perth, along with recalled pair Phil Hughes and Steven Smith.

The low-scoring nature of the WACA match, and Mitchell Johnson's nine wickets, meant the failures went unpunished in Australia's 267-run victory, which left the series poised at 1-1 with two games to play.

But Australia are likely to take four out-of-form batsmen into the next Test at the cavernous Melbourne Cricket Ground starting on Boxing Day.

"That is a fair point," Flower said when asked about the poor form of several of the Australian batsmen.

"There is no doubt that everything is not rosy in their camp. One Test match does not create that, we realise that.

"(Shane) Watson and (Mike) Hussey have been very good for them so far and we will be looking to make the most of that (top order weakness) in the next Test."

Flower said England would specifically revisit their plans for Hussey, who is the top-scorer in the series with 517 runs at an average of 103.40.

Hughes made two and 12 in Perth, Smith seven and 36 after both batsmen were recalled on the back of unimpressive form for New South Wales.

Ponting has just 83 runs at 16.60 for the series and has not scored a century in nine Tests, while Clarke has only made it into double figures twice in the current Ashes series, averaging 23.

Australia have relied heavily on Hussey, opener Watson (293 runs at 58.60) and wicketkeeper-batsman Brad Haddin (264 at 52.80).

However, Ponting, who also has injury issues heading to Melbourne after fracturing the little finger on his left hand in Perth, dismissed any major concerns over the batting line-up.

"I guess if you look at the cold, hard facts that's exactly right," he said, when asked if some of Australia's key batsmen were struggling.

"But you also know in any game you play, and any win or loss that you have, that there's always going to be three or four or five of your guys that don't have any impact on a game.

"That's just the way cricket's always been. It's about when an opportunity comes around for certain players to stand up and get the job done that they do it."

Topics : Cricket Andy Flower Kevin Pietersen Ian Bell
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